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ralstona

Royal Navy Ensign, Made at Mare Island (California) dated 1943

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Posted (edited)

Just picked this up.  

Royal Navy Ensign marked "Great Britain No. 2" and "Mare Island Feb 1943" on the hoist.

Flag is big (Hoist = 7.5 feet, Fly = 15 feet)

A bit tattered.  It is covered with old repairs.  

Mare Island Naval Shipyard is in Vallejo, California.  The first shipyard on the west coast it was opened until 1996.  There was a flag makers shop that produced ensigns for the US navy (and some Allied navies during WWII).  

The flag shop was staffed by 400 people and included 300 female seamstresses.  

They produced, among many others, the two flags that flew at Iwo Jima in 1945.

I have an email in with the Vallejo Naval Museum to see if they have any more information.

I believe the "No. 2" refers to the size.  They made sizes 1 - 12, #1 being the biggest and 12 being the smallest.

Among the Royal Navy ships repaired at Mare Island during the war were HMS Liverpool and HMS Orion.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

MareIsland1.jpg

MareIsland2.jpg

MareIsland3.jpg

MareIsland4.jpg

Edited by ralstona

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A very fine period example, though a bit large to display.  I have a door sized example which is just about displayable. 

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Just heard back from Jim Kern at the Vallejo Naval Museum.

"Please excuse my delay in responding to your email about your very interesting Mare Island flag. 
 
Beginning soon after the Civil War, a flag loft was established at Mare Island, purportedly to provide employment for Civil War widows. The flag loft eventually grew to make flags for the entire US Pacific fleet and (with the sail loft) also made sails, canvas boat covers, signal flags, banners, and anything else made of cloth. They also made flags for ships of foreign navies that often came to Mare Island for repairs.
 
There were two British ships that came to Mare Island for repairs during the war, HMS Liverpool and HMS Orion. As near as I can tell, Liverpool departed Mare Island in November 1941 and Orion departed in March of 1942, so your flag could not have been from either of these ships. However, US Navy ships were constantly arriving and departing from Mare Island throughout the war, so they may have brought flags to British ships that were stationed elsewhere in the Pacific. 
 
Interestingly, before the war Mare Island even made flags for visiting German ships, as evidenced by the attached photos of a German swastika flag made at Mare island in 1936."
 
This flag is the same large #2 size as mine.

mare island nazi flag 1.JPG

mare island nazi flag 2.JPG

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